15 March 2016

Google Posts: a new publishing platform for verified individuals and organizations

Lost in the rattle of the current US presidential campaign, Google launched a little-known initiative that could turn its most used product, the search results, into an instant publishing platform: Google Posts. The project homepage is sparse at the moment; presented as an experimental new podium on Google, it’s currently restricted to public figures and organizations. Apparently only (some) presidential candidates got early access, as you can see in the search results for Hilary Clinton: her statements on important issues in the political debate are highlighted in the sidebar under her profile and accompanied by a small ‘verified’ badge. Results on other candidates, like Marco Rubio or Donald Trump, show similar boxes about political issues, but they are compiled from their statements via Google’s Knowledge Graph. It’s not very clear however how people can share these snippets, as mentioned below, since there’s no apparent link – maybe it’s something only available to publishers?

Verified individuals and organizations can now communicate with text, images and videos directly on Google. Creating content is fast and simple, and once published, posts will appear instantly in search results related to the publisher. Each post can also be shared on popular social networks.
Google Posts for Hilary ClintonGoogle Posts for Marco Rubio
Google-verified posts on Hilary Clinton’s search results; other candidates get quotes from Knowledge Graph instead

The intentions here seem rather obvious: if this new platform gains larger adoption, it’s another way to attract organizations into Google’s ecosystem, away from other publishing options, first of all individual websites, but also other large tech companies. Indeed, by now almost all of them offer some sort of in-house publishing tool. The trend started with Medium, which is designed around a better experience for small-time publishers, but has begun courting the American political class; Apple recently added Apple News; Facebook has Instant Articles for news and the updated Notes for individuals; rumor has it Twitter is also considering relaxing the 140-character limit to allow much longer posts. In the short term Google countered with the AMP initiative, but that is designed to make existing news content faster – ‘Posts’ on the other hand would go much further, cutting out traditional media entirely by offering organizations and high-profile individuals a direct connection to users, supported by the authority of Google’s search results. It’s a tempting offer to say the least: less costs with website architecture and SEO, instant visibility in Google search results – but with the same caveats of publishing on Medium or any other ‘walled’ platform you can’t control.

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